He is known to do almost any job, no matter the danger or violence involved, as long as it will make him a good deal of money, a trait which has earned him the nickname "Dirtyhands".
Kaz has pale skin and dark hair trimmed short on the sides. According to Inej, his eyes are the color of bitter coffee, or strong tea in sunlight. He has a sharp jawline and a lean, muscular build. He has two tattoos; one of the Dregs' crow and cup on his forearm, and the other on his bicep of a black R for 'Rietveld,' his original surname.
Kaz wears simple, dark clothing that is tailored to fit him – the clothing of a businessman. He remarked once to Inej that he wore business clothing in order to mock respectable businessmen, whom he considers merely socially acceptable thieves and criminals. Kaz also wears black leather gloves almost all of the time; few have seen him without them.
Kaz has a limp, and carries a cane with a crow's head as a handle that he had created by a Fabrikator. His limp is due to jumping off a roof at a young age, something that never healed. This leg has been shown as a metaphor to the Kaz himself, his memories never yet healed.
"A liar, a thief, and utterly without conscience. But he'll keep to any deal you strike with him."
- — Inej Ghafa
Kaz can be cold-hearted and ruthless. He will do almost any job if he so wishes, no matter how despicable or bloody it is, thus earning him the nickname 'Dirtyhands'. Kaz is manipulative and conniving, and makes sure to always be the person in control of the situation. For this reason, he's quick-witted and always has a trick up his sleeve. He despises skin contact, showing signs of being a haphephobic by always wearing gloves on his hands. Kaz rarely shows his emotions, and when he does, he has difficulty expressing them. Kaz is always calm and collected, never letting people see what he’s really thinking. When he finally lets out though, he is ruthless, such as when he pulled out Oomen’s eyeball in Six of Crows. Kaz also holds a penchant for wrath and revenge; as he always swears to avenge his deceased brother. He seems to have a soft side only when he is around Inej, and towards the end of Six of Crows, begins to realize that he has genuine feelings for her.
Kaz originated from a small village near Lij, in Kerch. He first came to Ketterdam with his brother Jordie Rietveld at the age of nine. They had sold their father's farm after he'd died, and used the money to start a new life in the city. The siblings were conned out of all their money by Pekka Rollins, who was going by the alias Jakob Hertzoon, and were left penniless.
He was taken to see the magician who had been performing on the West Stave and saw a boy (Filip) selling wind-up dogs. While Kaz was playing with the dogs, Jordie struck up a conversation with Filip who brought him to Jakob Hertzoon (Pekka). Filip was also part of the con. "Jakob's" fake wife was called Margit and served the two boys 'hutspot' made from sausages. Kaz had a crush on a girl named Saskia who gave him her red ribbon, but was also part of the con. The pair were left on the streets in dire poverty.
Both Kaz and Jordie caught the Queen's Lady Plague, also known as firepox, when it swept through Ketterdam. Jordie died of the disease, and Kaz fell very ill as well. The siblings were presumed dead and their bodies were collected and brought out to sea but Kaz, barely alive, swam back to Ketterdam using his brother's body as a float. The experience was extremely traumatic for young Kaz and left him unable to bear contact with another person's skin. Also it is implied that the illness damaged his throat causing his voice to develop a rasp.
After his brother's death, Kaz vowed to make Pekka Rollins pay for conning him out of their money and bringing about Jordie's death. He changed his surname to Brekker to cut off ties to his past and joined up with The Dregs at age 12. Kaz started out as a simple grunt, but quickly rose up the ranks in the Dregs to become a lieutenant, feared by many for his precise ruthlessness. It was due to him that the Crow Club, one of the Dregs' main source of income, was reestablished and the formerly scant Fifth Harbour now flourished with business. The Dregs gained power and reputation mostly due to Kaz, and he is viewed by many as the true leader of the Dregs as opposed to Per Haskell.
Kaz begins the story by running an operation on Geels and the Black Tips, revealing a member of the Dregs, Big Bolliger, to be a double agent. After successfully destroying the Black Tips, Kaz, in a state of confusion, is kidnapped by Jan Van Eck, Upstanding Mercher, who makes an offer. The offer suggests that if Kaz and his crew successfully complete an impossible heist, he will receive thirty million kruge: Break into the Ice Court of Fjerda and rescue Bo-Yul-Bayur. Kaz, unable to resist the offer of thirty thousand kruge, accepts, gathering a team. His crew consists of Inej Ghafa (his Wraith and spy), Nina Zenik (a Heartrender), Jesper Fahey (a sharpshooter and loyal member of the Dregs), Wylan Van Eck (demo and hostage), Matthias Helvar (Fjerdan and former drüskelle), and, of course, himself. After rescuing Matthias from Hellgate, where he was previously imprisoned, the crew make their way to the Ice Court. The journey is long and difficult, involving a great deal of planning and a few dangerous situations, yet eventually the crew arrives at the Ice Court. Each member has their own job, and eventually, the group discovers that the man, Bo Yul-Bayur, that they were intended to kidnap, has died, leaving his son, Kuwei Yul-Bo. Kaz and his crew take Kuwei back, only to discover that the entire heist was a trick in order to help Jan Van Eck himself and only himself. Kaz, despite his planning and work, never anticipated such a thing, yet keeps Kuwei Yul-Bo. He insists that if Van Eck wants Kuwei, he will need to give up the thirty million kruge. Van Eck, however, noticed the way Kaz looked at Inej and instead kidnapped Inej herself, insisting that Kaz would be able to have his Wraith if he gave up Kuwei. Crooked Kingdom
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Kaz has no Grisha power or magical abilities, but he is skilled at lock-picking, card tricks, and sleight of hand. These abilities are so complex that Matthias often calls him demjin or demon. He is privy to information of just about anyone and anything in the city, due to Inej's stealth-like abilities and his considerable influence over Ketterdam.
His sleight of hand skills have been shown many times through the series, one case being when he took a gun from Per Haskell, took the bullets out without his knowing, and gave it back in a matter of seconds.
Kaz is also known most prominently as the mastermind and leader of the Six of Crows crew. He devises the plan and directs the crew. His plans are often extremely complex, having many layers that even those participating do not know the entirety of the plan. Inej, Jesper, Nina, Wylan and Mattias all follow his orders without question.
Kaz has outstanding intellect for his age and extraordinary memory, therefore being able to manage businesses such as the Crow Club and Fifth Harbour.
Kaz has a limp in his right leg, which he acquired after falling from a roof (thus breaking his leg), during a job. It never healed quite properly, thus the severity of his limp varies on a day-to-day basis. He could have had his leg healed in Crooked Kingdom but decides to leave it as is. When asked by Inej what Kaz's tell is in a fight, he claims that that his opponents never look past his limp, giving Kaz the element of surprise on his side.
Kaz also suffers from Haphephobia, the fear of being touched or touching others. This developed from his traumatic experiences as a child, when he was thought to be dead and dumped with hundreds of dead plague victims. Kaz was forced to swim to shore, using his deceased brother to keep him from drowning. He suffers from vivid flashbacks whenever he makes skin-to-skin contact with anyone else. This severe phobia also comes up when he’s in small spaces with other people: in Six of Crows, when Kaz had to go inside of a prison wagon to infiltrate the Ice Court, he fainted from being forced to be in close proximity with so many other people. Kaz wears gloves all the time to try and overcome this condition, and shows to be slowly winning out at the end of Crooked Kingdom where he’s able to hold Inej’s hand and kisses her neck.
Kaz caught the Queen's Lady Plague along with his brother, Jordie. Jordie died, but Kaz survived, albeit with Aphenphosmphobia and a rasp in his voice.
"I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all."
- — Inej Ghafa
Inej and Kaz are extremely close and have fought side by side in the Dregs for over two years. Kaz originally rescued her from the severe treatment of Tante Heleen at the Menagerie after convincing her to become indentured with The Dregs instead. Inej is Kaz's second-in-command and the person he trusts the most in the world, enough to take his gloves off in front of her.
Kaz acknowledges his growing feelings for Inej, but tries to suppress them, viewing them as a weakness or a liability for both himself and Inej. Still, he makes a particular effort to prevent harm coming to her, and to do right by her, even if he believes she deserves better.
In the end, he shows her he has found her parents and brought them to Ketterdam. Beside herself with joy, Inej invites Kaz to come meet them with her. He straightens his tie before going to see them.
- Leigh Bardugo has stated that Kaz's bad leg is based off of her own osteonecrosis.
- Brekker is similar to 'breker' which means breaker in Dutch (The language Kerch is based off of.)
- Brekker is also from a piece of machinery.
- Kaz got the idea for his last name off of a piece of machinery he saw in Ketterdam.
- "Kaz" means "a flaw", "an imperfection", or "a defect" in both Slovak and Czech.
- "Kaz" also means "a goose" in Turkish.
- Kaz may have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of his traumatic experiences after Jordie died, which is shown through his constant flashbacks made when undergoing contact with human flesh.
Memorable Quotes Edit
Six of CrowsEdit
- “I trade in information, the things men do when they think no one is looking. Shame holds more value than coin ever can.”
- “A secret’s not like coin. It doesn’t keep its value in the spending.”
- "When everyone knows you're a monster, you needn't waste time doing every monstrous thing."
- "Brick by brick, I will destroy you."
- "The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you're going to steal his watch. You take his attention and direct it where you want it to go."
- "If it were a trick, I'd promise you safety. I'd offer you happiness. I don't know if that exists in the Barrel, but you'll find none of it with me."
- "I've broken into banks, warehouses, mansions, museums, vaults, a rare book library, and once the bedchamber of a visiting Kaelish diplomat whose wife had a passion for emeralds. But I've never had a cannon shot at me."
- "Some people see a magic trick and say, 'Impossible!' They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night's sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they're the kind who won't rest until they've mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I'm that kind."
- "I'll tell you a secret... the really bad monsters never look like monsters" - Pg. 30 Ch. 2
- “Sometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself.”
- "I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together -knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting." - Pg. 184 Ch. 12
- “My mother is Ketterdam. She birthed me in the harbor. And my father is profit. I honor him daily.” - Pg. 200 Ch. 14
- “You’re not weak because you can’t read. You’re weak because you’re afraid of people seeing your weakness. You’re letting shame decide who you are … It’s shame that lines my pockets, shame that keeps the Barrel teeming with fools ready to put on a mask just so they can have what they want with none the wiser about it. We can endure all kinds of pain. It’s shame that eats men whole.” - Pg. 283 Ch. 18
- "I don't hold a grudge. I cradle it. I coddle it. I feed it fine cuts of meat and send it to the best schools. I nurture my grudges" - Pg. 300 Ch. 21
- "I've taken knives, bullets, and too many punches to count, all for a little piece of this town. This is the city I bled for. And if Ketterdam has taught me anything, it's that you can always bleed a little more" - Pg. 354 Ch. 26
- "Rich men want to believe they deserve every penny they've got, so they forget what they owe to chance. Smart men are always looking for loopholes. They want an opportunity to game the system" - Pg. 398 Ch. 39
- “They don't know who we are. Not really. They don't know what we've done, what we've managed together. So let's go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.” - Pg. 420 Ch. 30
- "Suffering is like anything else. Live with it long enough, you learn to like the taste." - Pg. 478 Ch. 37
- “You can only sharpen a blade so far. In the end, it comes down to the quality of the metal.” - Pg. 504 Ch. 41
- "Ketterdam is made of monsters. I just happen to have the longest teeth." - Pg. 521 Ch.43
- "Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don't forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for." - Pg. 528 Ch. 44
Six of Crows
|Main Characters||Kaz Brekker • Inej Ghafa • Jesper Fahey • Nina Zenik • Matthias Helvar • Wylan Van Eck • Kuwei Yul-Bo • Jan Van Eck • Pekka Rollins|
|Minor Characters||Joost • Per Haskell • Jarl Brum • Tante Heleen • Bo Yul-Bayur • Jordie Rietveld • Councilman Hoede • Geels • Specht • Emil Retvenko • Anya • Cornelis Smeet • Zoya Nazyalensky • Sturmhond • Dunyasha Lazareva • Onkle Felix • Raske • Genya Safin|
|Locations||Ketterdam • Hellgate • Ice Court • Djerholm • Kerch • Ravka • Novyi Zem • Shu Han • Fjerda • Wandering Isle|
|Groups||The Dregs • Grisha • Drüskelle • The Menagerie • Black Tips • Merchant Council • House of the White Rose|
|Events||Hringkälla • Hellshow • Queen's Lady Plague • Komedie Brute|
|Miscellaneous||Jurda • Jurda Parem • Kefta • Indenture • Djel • Ghezen|